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Jimmy Trujillo works in his studio in June 2013. He was that year’s Spanish Master Award for Lifetime Achievement. He died in May of liver cancer, and a booth is set up at Spanish Market, where he was a fixture, in his memory.

Jimmy Trujillo works in his studio in June 2013. He was that year’s Spanish Master Award for Lifetime Achievement. He died in May of liver cancer, and a booth is set up at Spanish Market, where he was a fixture, in his memory.
Jimmy Trujillo dedicated countless hours to the art he created, from bolo ties made of bone to his renowned straw appliqué crosses.
Trujillo was a staple at the Santa Fe Traditional Spanish Market for decades. He became known for his encrusted straw technique that left a metallic finish, which became known as poor man’s gold.
He worked with straw for over 38 years and received the Spanish Colonial Arts Society’s Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013.
“He was very involved with the art; that was his passion,” said his wife, Debbie Trujillo.
“He loved the market. It was just his thing. He enjoyed getting ready for it, he enjoyed the camaraderie and he enjoyed doing the work,” she added.
This year’s market felt a little emptier as Trujillo’s booth under the plaza portal housed a memorial for the renowned craftsman.
Trujillo died in May from liver cancer, only a few months after being diagnosed. He was born in Abiquiú on Oct. 24, 1948.
Debbie Trujillo said her husband always dedicated himself to his art and the things he loved. She said one year he spent nearly 300 hours carving a matraka, or noisemaker.
“He was carving in bed; he was carving on the road; he was carving everywhere we went to complete this piece,” she said.
Trujillo’s cousin and potter, Debbie Carrillo, said she would usually go to the market with him every year.
“I think a lot of people are going to miss him,” Carrillo said. “He was just a very kind gentle person, and he had a good rapport with everyone. But it is what it is, and God calls you when you have to go.”
Trujillo played many roles throughout his life. He was an artist, a loving husband, a grandfather and a friend to many of the other artists that attend the Traditional Spanish Market every year.
He was also one of the founders of the Santero Market in Old Town Albuquerque and a Hermano Penitente of La Piadosa Fraternidad de Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno at La Morada de Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores de Alto in Abiquiú.
“He was like a light; like a beacon to the community,” said the organizer for the Traditional Spanish Market, Jessica Thirloway.
Trujillo has been one of the only artists at the market who uses the encrusted straw technique, which involved encasing thin slices of straw, that are set into carved patterns, in piñon resin.
His work can be found in museums across the country, including the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, the Denver Art Museum, the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Straw Art in Long Beach, Calif.
He had many students who he passed this technique down to over the years, and market organizers hopes at least one of them will continue to honor his legacy at future markets.
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